Leda and the Swan

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  • Leda and the Swan
    • Context
      • Based around the Greek mythology of Leda and the Swan, where Zeus rapes a Leda in the form of a swan and later falls pregnant with Helen of Troy. He used this tale to represent England's boisterous control over Ireland.
    • Form
      • Is a petrarchan sonnet, which is ironic because it is usually used in poems about love, however, this poem is quite dark and violent
    • Meaning
      • Consensual  or rape?
        • In some parts of the poem, it sounds as though Leda is giving herself to Zeus, whereas in other parts of the poem it sounds as though she is being raped.
          • Consensual: "Her thighs caressed" "loosening thighs" "A shudder in the loins"
          • Rape: "helpless" "her nape caught in his bill" "terrified vague fingers"
      • "The broken wall, the burning roof and tower And Agamemnon dead," shows that Yeats is talking about the destruction of war and Agamemnon's demise.
      • Yeats ends the poem with a rhetorical question, as he does in many of his poems, to maybe make you wonder, as he was, what would be the fate of Ireland and it's people.
      • Leda = Ireland and Swan = England?


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